Myanmar President vows `healthy democracy`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 10:19
Singapore: Myanmar's President on Monday pledged to establish a "healthy democracy" after nearly half a century of iron-fisted military rule as he sought Singapore's help to modernise the creaking economy.

President Thein Sein, in Singapore for a four-day state visit, also appealed to the global community to continue encouraging Myanmar on its reform path, saying the transition period was fraught with challenges.

"The international community should render its support and encouragement to our effort to meet our objectives because a young democratic nation has emerged on this planet," Thein Sein told a lavish state dinner held in his honour.

"We have turned a new page in our country in order to create better conditions in Myanmar. We want to give a brighter future for our people.

"We want our people to take part in the democratic reform process and we want democracy to thrive in Myanmar. I wish to assure you that I shall endeavour to establish a healthy democracy in Myanmar."

The ex-general and former member of Myanmar's feared junta added that "since we are on the right track to democracy we shall overcome these challenges with great care and proceed ahead till we reach our goals".

Thein Sein was appointed president in February last year after November 2010 elections that have ushered in reforms in Myanmar that have surprised international observers, though the West is demanding more still be done.

Earlier today, Thein Sein met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the pair witnessed the signing by their foreign ministers of an agreement under which Singapore will provide training for reforms in the legal, banking and financial sectors.

The pact also calls on Singapore to share its best practices in trade, tourism and urban planning. Resource-rich but largely untapped Myanmar in return offers attractive opportunities for Singapore businesses.

Thein Sein was accompanied by a top-level delegation which included business leaders and top ministers in charge of economic portfolios, underlining the importance of the trip to Myanmar's nominally civilian government.

Singapore President Tony Tan said the wealthy city-state would strengthen economic cooperation and business links with Myanmar, as the country emerges from decades of political and economic isolation.


First Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 10:17

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